Wake County Commissioners approved a new set of stormwater regulations that county staff said would lessen the amount of pollution in Falls Lake and Jordan Lake.
As it stands, both lakes are considered polluted because of excessive nutrients. One of the primary reasons causes for this is stormwater runoff that ends up into area streams. Both lakes are used for recreational and wildlife purposes, but most importantly, for Wake County’s drinking water.
Developers who are constructing new projects would be required to install more stormwater devices, like retention ponds, on- or off-site. Developers wouldn’t be restricted to using any particular kinds of devices so long as it met the law’s standards.
Although it was not a part of this resolution, the county will eventually have to impose more strict regulations on existing development.
This law would also regulate and monitor phosphorus levels for the first time in the county’s history.
While the standards have been set by the state, they have not been adopted.
The only dissenting vote came from Commissioner Tony Gurley who said he voted against the resolution because he wanted to wait until the state adopted its own standards. Adoption of the law could be another two years away. Gurley said that the increased regulation would put the county at a competitive disadvantage.
Commissioner chair Paul Coble warned commissioners that if they adopt the law before the state does, they risk finding themselves in an expensive situation. Coble explained that while he was a member of the Raleigh City Council, the council approved a set of water quality regulations ahead of the state. When the state adopted the law, the wording had been changed, requiring the city to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to exceed its own regulations.
Commissioner Joe Bryan questioned the benefits of the regulation.
“I’d like to know what benefit Wake County citizens should expect to see by implementing these requirements, other than the broad statement that we’ll have cleaner water,” he said.
Melinda Clark of the environmental services department said that the regulations will keep the problem from getting worse by keeping new development from adding to the lakes’ pollution. The state will evaluate the progress every five years. “It’s going to be a constant process of monitoring and adjusting the strategy,” she said.
More than 40 municipalities have already approved the standards, but Wake County’s regulations would only apply to areas in the unincorporated parts of the county.
Passage Home Gets Housing Grant
Raleigh-based nonprofit, Passage Home, will receive a $500,000 loan to build a small apartment community in South Raleigh.
The community will have 18 two-bedroom apartments for residents who are earning at or below 40 to 80 percent area median income. Many of the residents will be making the transition from homelessness so residency and credit history will be less strict than those of other affordable housing communities.
The site at Coleman Street and Martin Luther Kind Jr, Boulevard has easy access to shopping, transit and healthcare, making it a prime location for housing of this type.
Passage home has already received about $1.8 million in funding for the project from the City of Raleigh.
Wake Tech Bond Referendum Moving Forward
While they haven’t made a decision on a transportation bond, county commissioners took on the next steps toward putting a bond referendum on the November ballot to fund Wake Tech construction projects.
If approved, the $200 million bond would fund additional buildings at the Northern Wake campus, construction of a Research Triangle Park campus, repairs and renovations through the existing buildings and the completion of the Public Safety Campus.
Officially, the bond would not include any tax increases but Commissioner Erv Portman said the bond will, “drain the cookie jar,” and “that we will be coming to the public with a tax increase probably next year to fund schools – or the following year – because there are no funds left.”
He went on to say that educational needs will far exceed the amount of bond funding that is left.
A public hearing for the referendum will be held at the commissioners’ regular meeting Aug. 6.